Crafting a budget for the City of Minot is a time-consuming and detailed process that begins in earnest in early spring, and culminates in City Council approval in late September.
City Manager Harold Stewart presented a preliminary 2022 budget of $175.95 million to City Council members on Aug. 2. At Monday’s regular meeting, City Council members will have the opportunity to ask questions and seek more details about the budget from City department heads. The Council meeting scheduled for Sept. 7 includes a public hearing where members of the public can appear before the Council to provide input and ask questions, and the budget is scheduled to be approved on second reading at the Sept. 20 Council meeting.
You can find the preliminary budget on the City’s website at https://www.minotnd.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/578. I encourage anyone who has thoughts on the budget or questions about specific items to contact me or a member of the Council. I’d also encourage you to attend the Sept. 7 public hearing to share your thoughts with us. Municipal government works best when residents are engaged and involved in the budget process.
We recognize that property tax rates garner a lot of attention, and rightly so. It’s our job as elected officials to be good stewards of the public’s money. Of the proposed $175.95 million budget, approximately $26.54 million is obtained through property taxes. The proposed budget includes 123.57 mills, compared to 121.29 mills for 2021. For the owner of a home at the median value of $187,000, property taxes would rise approximately $4.79 a month. The two-mill change is essentially an adjustment to accommodate the way the state calculates a formula for Homestead and veterans property tax credits.
The 2022 proposed budget includes funding to continue work on flood control phases, the Northwest Area Water Supply project, and projects through the National Disaster Resilience program. While the funding for those projects already exists, it must be included in the budget in order to be spent in 2022.
In every budget, we must focus on maintaining critical City services to the community, including things like police and fire protection, water production, street maintenance, sanitation collection, and many others. We must also remember that it takes employees to provide those services, and when the scope of those services expands, the number of employees must be adjusted accordingly. As such, the proposed 2022 budget includes requests for 18 new employees.
As an example, two of the requested positions are in our Transit Department. We currently don’t have a bus route that adequately serves the southwest section of Minot where the new Trinity medical campus is being constructed. Once those facilities are operating, it will be critical for our bus system to provide passengers access to that location. If we expand our service, we must also add new drivers.
The proposed 2022 budget includes several capital improvement projects that were removed from the 2021 budget, projects that are critical to providing essential services to the residents of our community. Those items include:
- A fifth fire station will be constructed along Fourth Avenue Northwest to increase fire protection to the residents in that area. The station is critical to improving the response time to incidents in northwest Minot, and should not be delayed any longer.
- The retaining wall that borders City Hall and the Police Department has been discussed and delayed for a number of years, while the condition of the wall has continued to deteriorate. It’s time for this project to be completed, which is why it is included in the 2022 budget.
- The construction of a transfer facility at the landfill is a major step toward implementing a curbside recycling program. The project also includes relocating the landfill entrance from the current location to 37th Avenue Southwest, which will eliminate hundreds of trucks from driving through a residential neighborhood to enter and exit the landfill.
Every budget is unique, and includes its own challenges. As always, we tasked our City department heads to think creatively in their funding requests. We challenged them to include their budget needs, not their wants. We encouraged them to be prudent and use common sense when presenting their requests. And, as usual, they responded, and I thank all staff members for their diligence in creating this budget.
As part of our recommendations to department heads, we urged them to ensure our property tax rate is kept in check as we work collaboratively with other taxing entities in our community. We know the Minot Public School District is developing a plan to construct a second public high school in Minot, and will be presenting a bond issue to voters in the near future.
A second public high school is critical to our community’s future. A quality education system impacts Minot’s future in many ways, including recruiting the highest quality health care professionals to Minot, recruiting businesses to our community, maintaining a favorable rating for the Department of Defense for families stationed at Minot Air Force Base, and providing more opportunities for our children. It’s imperative that the City does its part to maintain reasonable property tax rates as the school district unveils its plan, and I believe the proposed 2022 budget accomplishes that goal.
A reminder that this is a preliminary budget. Changes often take place, although we cannot increase the proposed budget. We can, however, make reductions to the budget. I look forward to discussing these issues with the Council and City department heads on Monday and with members of the public moving forward.
Sincerely, City Hall
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